School site debate

Exterior of the Learning Centre, also known as Children and Youth People's Service ACE centre, previously known as Park High School - also Hindley and Abram Grammar School, Park Road, Hindley Green

Exterior of the Learning Centre, also known as Children and Youth People's Service ACE centre, previously known as Park High School - also Hindley and Abram Grammar School, Park Road, Hindley Green

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THE future of a former high school is up for debate after the council began talks to knock it down to build new houses.

Wigan Council’s education and contracts bosses are currently in discussions over the use of Children and Youth People’s Service ACE centre, previously known as Park High School, in Hindley.

The former school, which closed in the 1980s, is now a teaching facility, hosting educational provision through The Learning (Professional Development) Centre, and also offers alternative and complementary education for the Wigan Young People and Wigan Music Service.

Until recently, Oakfield Special School provision was also located here.

But as the building has asbestos, it would cost more than £750,000 to repair and the council is considering more economical options, including to knock it down and develop housing on the site.

But Hindley Green councillor, Bob Brierley, is opposed to the idea.

He is already in talks with Wigan Council to submit a business plan to convert the sports facilities at the back of the school into a youth zone.

He said: “The site, which used to be known as Park High School, is earmarked to be demolished but it is a 100-year-old building and is gorgeous.

“It is a beautiful building and should not be knocked down. The council can build houses anywhere else.

“I also want to turn the sports centre into a youth club, as Hindley and Hindley Green have never had a youth club.

“We need to provide somewhere safe for youngsters and give them some facilities to enjoy.

“Within the sports centre are three squash courts, a basketball area, changing rooms and disabled facilities.

“We can organise indoor sports competitions, such as BMX riding, five-a-side football and morris dancing, as there is great space to use.”

Wigan Council’s head of education, Kirston Nelson, said: “For a long time this has been a successful site hosting educational provision for Wigan children and young people. We are currently exploring options on how to further improve our alternative provision across the borough by providing easier access to specialist provision on one site. The site in question is one of a number of options that we are exploring with the modernisation project team.

“We will not begin consulting on this proposal until we have determined the most appropriate location for this provision.”

Wigan Council’s director of economy, Steve Normington, said: “Coun Brierley has been in discussions with officers regarding the potential use of the sports hall of the former Park High School.

“He has been advised of the need to develop a robust and sustainable business case, which is necessary if the council was to consider a community asset transfer of the building to a community group.

“At this stage, we have no information regarding the use of the facility by Hindley, or Hindley Green, residents, or to indicate whether Coun Brierley intends to pursue this venture.”